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Essays on macroeconomic risk in financial markets Kuehn, Lars Alexander

Abstract

This thesis contains three essays. In the first essay, I provide new evidence on the failure of the Q theory of investment. The Q theory implies the state-by-state equivalence of stock returns and investment returns. However in the data, I find that investment and stock returns are negatively correlated. I also show that a production economy with time-to-build can explain these empirical facts. When I compute Q theory based investment returns on simulated data of the time-to-build model, they are uncorrelated with simulated stock returns, as in the data. Moreover, the model replicates the empirical negative correlation between stock returns and investment growth which some researchers have interpreted as evidence for irrational markets. In the second essay, I analyze the equilibrium effects of investment commitment on asset prices when the representative consumer has Epstein-Zin utility. Investment commitment captures the idea that long-term investment projects require not only current expenditures but also commitment to future expenditures. The general equilibrium effects of investment commitment and Epstein-Zin preferences generate endogenously time-varying first and second moments of consumption growth and stock returns. As a result, the first and second moments of excess returns are endogenously counter-cyclical, excess returns are predictable, and the equity premium increases by an order of magnitude. This paper also offers novel empirical findings regarding the predictability of returns. In the real and simulated data, the lagged investment rate helps to forecast the mean and volatility of returns. In the third essay, we embed a structural model of credit risk inside a consumption based model, which allows us to price equity and corporate debt in a single framework. Our key economic assumptions are that the first and second moments of earnings and consumption growth depend on the state of the economy which switches randomly, creating intertemporal risk, which agents prefer to resolve quickly because they have Epstein- Zin-Weil preferences. Our model generates co-movement between aggregate stock return volatility and credit spreads, consistent with the data, and potentially resolves the equity risk premium and credit spread puzzles.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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